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Friday, July 19, 2013

A tribute to a great team bulit over 5 years

October 16, 2014

I debated removing this page when I left CA Technologies in April, but thought that I would leave it as a tribute to an incredibly special team that we created together.  Unfortunately, as the saying approximately goes, "every positive cultural change is one manager change away from failure," and the overall direction was no longer compatible with my personal values and it was time to leave.  Perhaps one day I'll write about that experience.  However, I'm really excited about the new team we're building at Socialware, which I've been long-overdue to write about!  -m@

July 19, 2013


You've probably arrived on this page as someone forwarded you over a position for our team at CA Technologies here in Austin.  Yes, we're hiring in a relatively big way, but we do things a little different here.  I thought it would be good that you know a little bit about us before you consider joining.

Keeping CA Technologies Weird

It's important to know our heritage: our team is composed of the former NetQoS and Hyperformix development teams.  We are part of CA Technologies, and we don't pine for the "good old days", but we are "keeping CA Technologies weird" in the following ways:

Party Bus w/Karaoke for Offsite Toobing Day
  • We are entrepreneurial and motivated by delivering direct value to our customers by eliminating waste (as identified by the team members) and eschew process that doesn't make sense.
  • We are a 95%+ co-located team.
  • We have fun, but not in a pinball machine/video game kinda way.  Don't get me wrong, we have that stuff, but the most fun (for us) is solving really challenging problems with a reach nearly unparalleled by other companies in the local market. Winning is also really fun.
  • People should be and are unique.  We don't have a dress code, and people have flexible work styles. We do emphasize being in the same place at the same time for a good amount of the day, but understand why that's important.
  • We have a sense of humor and treat people as responsible adults.  Experience has shown that the benefits of this far outweigh the risks in this approach.
  • We ask A LOT of questions around why things should be done, especially when someone else is telling us to do them.  We've kinda got a reputation....but that reputation is superseded by our ability to deliver valuable software to our customers and make money.  Funny how that works out.
  • We all figure that a culture of fear has pretty much been played out by now.  Individual and team empowerment is engaging--we like that.
  • Our management team "walks the talk" of acting as servant-leaders.  We are here to help things "go righter"

Service Day at KIPP Austin

Why you might want to work on this team

In addition to being OK with the above, you:
  • Love solving very tough problems and truly love to learn.
  • Focus on quick delivery to get rapid feedback into what our products should be for our customers
  • Are inspired by how technologies can affect people's lives for the better
  • Can deal with constant experiments in how our work is done 
  • Work really well with others in tight teams yet still have independent minds
  • Are OK with doing any job on the team, but realize that it makes sense to focus on your strengths
  • Have a passion for building products that deliver real value to customers
  • Are open to the possibility that all this "agile stuff" just might not be management bullshit.  You've looked at the Agile Manifesto and the Principles, and that sounds really good to you.  You have hopes that someone, somewhere really pays attention to this stuff.
  • Want a real work/life balance.  This is again, not bullshit.  I have not asked the teams that I serve to work a night or a weekend for four years running.  We practice sustainable pace (and fully know why we do).
  • Want to develop your "career capital"--we carve out one week a year for everyone to train and build it into our schedules.  Yes, there's budget too.  No, it doesn't get cancelled, but you'll need to have some level of independent motivation.
  • Want a certain paycheck and sweet benefits.  CA Technologies is a big company, we enjoy more than five weeks of vacation a year.  Yes, you heard that right, and that's before holidays.
I know the above sounds a bit too hard to believe, but you can ask any team member.

At a recent "Science Faire" where the team takes two days
every four weeks to work on their innovative projects.

Why you might not want to work on the team

There's nothing wrong with these things at all, but please don't apply if the following resonate with you, as you won't be a good cultural fit for the team:
  • You just want to do your "own" work, and it doesn't make any difference where or when you do it
  • You want someone to clearly tell you what to do and how to do it
  • You are a <fill in the blank> technologist (e.g. Java, C++, C#, RoR, Scala, Fortran, LOGO, Perl, etc.)  and really aren't interested in anything else
  • You believe that agile, at it's core, just another management fad, as is Lean and all the others.  Just let me code and don't worry about process.
  • Automation is of no interest to you
  • You are upset with the world for some reason, and believe work is a great place to express it
  • You have to be the smartest person in the room
Seeing our software running on mobile for the first time!

~ @MulticastMatt


  1. Hello Matt. I work with Lou Bailey at GM and found your blog through the AgileAustin site. The description of the team at CA Austin sounds like a great fit for me, so I followed the link to the Jobs page.

    I am Scrum Master and Technical Project manager, and was excited to see the Sr Engineering Project Manager (req1244) opportunity there. This opportunity lists PMI certification as required and the responsibilities section suggests that this is a "Scope and Budget Control" type of role.

    Is your team using Agile? Do you have a Scrum Master or need one? Is the need for a traditional Project Manager or is there something more? I would love the opportunity to talk with someone directly involved with the search, however I wanted to ask you about this incongruence between the blog description of CA Austin and this role.

  2. Hi Mark:

    Thanks for taking a look at the blog post. Quite a few questions there--I'd be happy to discuss them with you. I believe that I'm aware of the Sr. Engineering Project Manager and know the hiring manager (it's not me). There are actually a number of teams in the Austin office of CA Technologies, so this blog post is really representative of the teams that I work with directly. I can say that there is a great desire in CA for us to change in many better ways and I'm proud to say that I am part of it.

    Please feel free to reach out to me via email at and we can continue the conversation!

    All the best,


  3. Matt,
    Awesome post. Really well done... and I mean the TEAM and the leadership is well done! It is great to see teams like yours actually making Agile work in practice and taking to heart the essence of what it should be. I especially like the "You may not fit here if:" You nailed it.
    I know it has taken you years of ongoing consistent effort to maintain the momentum, and protect the team from various other HR or 360s initiatives or processes or attempts to otherwise "help"... so kudos to you and your whole team! It is great to see that.
    Jeff Brantley

  4. Hi Jeff--thanks so much for the great feedback. It definitely has been a TEAM effort to create what is the most special environment I've ever experienced.